The Musics, May 2021
Below is what I’ve been tracking, listening to, and reading the last month. I have an email capture at the bottom if you want me to email you once a month when I post these.
I start with an amuse bouche from Smooth McGroove, who does acapella versions of video game music. He’s been out with health issues and it’s wonderful to have him back in health and good spirits.
Mark Guiliana: one of my favorite drummers and composers. He wrote this album as music to the book The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier by Ian Urbina (discussed below). I listened to the audiobook first before checking out this album as I wanted to hear my own visuals first from the stories. Having said that, Guiliana captures what was in my mind with the wonder and danger of life at sea Urbina details in this book. This was a really interesting project.
This new Pat Metheny showcases more of his writing and less of his playing. He only plays on the last tune and the others are other guitar ensembles. The song writing and performances are gorgeous.
I check out anything new by drummer Adam Deitch so I jumped on this album. This organ trio has such a raw, driving sound. This tune in particular. I’m fairly new to this album but it’s a great one to put at the end of the day/week to keep the juices flowing.
I really, really enjoy Connick’s albums and how far he stretches between big band and small jazz and pop ensembles. Organized religion and songs about organized religion may not be everyone’s thing, but I liked how he blended traditional church music with NOLA with light electronica in this album. I found the tunes very familiar and kept playing the album over and over. Especially this tune.
Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man by Emmanuel Acho, read by the author. As I continue learning about anti-racism, books are starting to have similar themes and discussion points. The recurring theme in Acho’s book along with other books is about the history of oppression–knowing the history is crucial. He also discusses why it’s important to see color (versus the approach many say of “I don’t see color”). Acho’s writing was educational and approachable–thanks for writing this book. He also has a YouTube channel under the same title of his book that I plan to check out.
Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant, read by the author. Want to be progressive? Then check this out to learn to be open-minded. Grant gives lots of great thoughts to approach criticism and failure and how to use both to approach and rethink things in new ways.
On Writing, by Stephen King, read by Stephen King with some bonus material with his children Joe Hill and Owen King. This was neat: King talks through his process of writing and creating, and gives direct advice also on writing and creating. As a musician, I connected with his suggestion to spend time playing without the need to actually produce something. Just play. Sure, learn the techniques. But then play outside the box and allow yourself to dream and wonder. As a lawyer, I connected with his advice to not use adverbs and to not over-explain: give enough to propel your story. But allow room for the audience to connect with your story based on their own experiences.
The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier by Ian Urbina, narrated by the author and Jason Culp. This goes with the Mark Guiliana album I discuss above. This book was one wild ride: talking about life at sea and how dangerous and lawless it can be. But how majestic and full of wonder it can also be. Urbina is an investigative reporter with the New York Times.
This month’s pic:
Early morning run at Balboa Park.